"Ask Vic" is published on Monday and Thursday through the offseason.
Morgan from Little Chute, WI
As it gets easier to play QB, why are the top 3-5 picks going to be QB?
It's because the position has never been more important, and I think making it easier to play has added to the position's importance. You don't win in today's game without scoring a lot of points, and you don't score a lot of points without a good quarterback. The position went through a talent drought for a few years. I think the league saw that and became worried as long-time stars began to age. Rules changes and points of emphasis have encouraged schemes that have mined talent at the position. No team should be without a capable quarterback in today's game, unless they're the Bears.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
It seems Miami has calmly leveraged desperate teams for multiple draft picks for a few years now. They retain cap space by only spending money on young and relatively cheap players, yet, they fielded a pretty good team. Have they discovered a new formula?
If they did -- it's really nothing new; the Browns did it in building their current team -- they goofed on Minkah Fitzpatrick. They used an 11 to pick him and then traded him a year later for an 18. Since then, Fitzpatrick has been a takeaways machine. He's intercepted nine passes, returned two of those for touchdowns, forced two fumbles and recovered three. He is one of the best defensive players in his draft class. At some point you have to pick and stick. In the salary cap era, the formula is pick good players, win for as long as the cap and the inverse draft order will allow, rinse, repeat. Yes, massaging the draft is a good idea. That's what the Dolphins are doing. Now comes the difficult part: Pick good players.
Richard from St. Augustine, FL
Always have loved your dry humor. Gotta think your comment about four ones for Trevor Lawrence was just that, because after about 25 years of reading, I have never seen you imply any player worth four ones. Will you come clean, regarding if you're serious?
I was being serious. Lawrence's value to Carolina is immense. His Clemson roots would give the Panthers a presence in South Carolina they've never enjoyed. Lawrence would truly make the Panthers a two-states regional franchise.
Stephen from Long Beach, CA
You touched on this in the answer to the final question on Monday, but does an added 17th game mean a larger roster size? I'm still trying to wrap my head around whether I like the idea or not.
A 17th game will likely result in some kind of change that deepens the roster. I think that can be achieved easily by tweaking the practice squad rules. The bigger issue, in my opinion, is how an extra game might impact the quarterback position. I think we've reached the point teams need two starting-caliber quarterbacks. The Cowboys, Ravens, 49ers, Giants, Washington, Rams, Bengals and more had injury issues at the position last season.
Taylor from Fargo, ND
Your take on the 49ers and Garoppolo was refreshing. I didn’t understand the 49ers' rationale and did some research only to come away exhausted. It only took you one short snippet to make it all clear. That’s the content I wish was easier to find. What needs to be done to get quality material to rise above the garbage we come across daily?
Drama sells and readers are getting played by sites desperate for the click. It chafes me to read a site trumpeting a cap hit reduction without explaining the future cost. It sends a terrible message the cap can be circumvented. It insinuates some kind of cheating-like maneuver, and that immediately sends fans into a frenzy. This isn't the proverbial rocket science. It's easy to understand and explain. Demand better. You do it with your click. Don't be careless with it.
Lance from Flagstaff, AZ
Mac Jones is not a top 10 talent. There is a QB in the SEC that is better and he's from Florida. He had less talent and put up similar and/or better numbers. Mac Jones is just another weak-armed, Daltonesque QB that looks good because he had the top talent at every position surrounding him.
One of my favorite scouts loves Kyle Trask. He thinks he's the next Roethlisberger. Another one of my favorite scouts agrees with you on Jones. The scout likens Jones to A.J. McCarron. There is no uni-board. Opinions vary. It's what makes the draft the event it is.
John from Jacksonville, FL
You've made it abundantly clear Jacksonville should not draft Trevor Lawrence. Why?
Lawrence is the logical first pick of the draft. I get it. So why would I consider trading the pick? It's because Lawrence is so coveted he could deliver a treasure trove of picks in a trade the Jags could use to build a dominant roster, and I attach more value to that than I do to a quarterback in what appears to be a deep crop of them. Sam Howell and Spencer Rattler will be next year's stars. I get the sense we're headed for a long run of talent at quarterback. Spread offenses nearly guarantee it.
Josh from La Crosse, WI
What's a draft class that beats Green Bay's 1958 (Jim Taylor, Ray Nitschke, Jerry Kramer and Dan Currie)?
Swann, Lambert, Stallworth, Webster.
Samuel from Phoenix, AZ
As an avid Vic reader, I’m going with your favorite player to be Jaylen Twyman.
I saw Twyman two years ago. He looked like the second coming of Aaron Donald: undersized, quick, disruptive. Last season, he opted out and it was a mistake. He thought he had shown enough, but it would seem that was a miscalculation. Because he's undersized, he needed to show more. The opt-outs are going to make the 2021 draft error-prone.
Steven from Charleston, SC
Can the Packers save money on their salary cap by trading out of the first round of the draft and not picking until rounds two and later?
The savings would be minimal. The draft is how you fix your cap; free agency is how you break it. The Minkah Fitzpatrick introduced an even better way of using rookie contracts to your advantage: Trade for a guy on a rookie deal one year after he's picked and you get him for three years on that deal, and his bonus amortization stays with the team that traded him. The draft has never been more important. It's about value, it's about need, it's about your salary cap.
Jack from Jacksonville, FL
According to his agent, Tyson Alualu had a change of heart about moving back to Jax. Why would he take less money to stay in Pittsburgh?
The explanation was he's building his dream house in Pittsburgh and his children are happy in their schools. I get that, but he's at the end of his career and he could've allowed life to continue for his family back in Pittsburgh while he chased the money in Jacksonville for a year or two. Hey, it's a seasonal business; airplanes fly between the two cities. Alualu chose to stay with the Steelers because that's where he wants to play. That's the real reason. He was considered a bust in Jacksonville. In Pittsburgh, he's been a valued performer. He chose happiness, for his family and for himself.
Jim from South Range, WI
Vic, I’ve often wondered how scouts, GMs, etc. get it so wrong on so many draftees. It’s easily understood with players who are considered marginal or projects, but how are mistakes so regularly made on high-profile draftees?
Mistakes are made because it's so difficult to determine if a prospect has another gear left in his game. He'll have to play at a higher level to be successful in the NFL. If he's topped out, he'll be a bust.
Nick from Boston, MA
Seventeen games with no additional bye weeks, retirement benefits, salary guarantees or access to free agency, and only meager revenue share gains. Why is the NFLPA so weak and shortsighted? Is it really just a consequence of having so many members?
Why kill the golden goose? The players and owners are partners in a business that's booming. When the NFL partners with legalized gambling, the money is going to flow like water. We'll see the salary cap hit a billion dollars per team. Quarterback salaries will reach a $100 million a year. I might even be underestimating what will happen.
Ben from El Paso, TX
What will the impact be of researchers being able to detect chronic traumatic encephalopathy in living patients?
On football? Players will retire sooner. The game will continue to soften. Gambling will become the bigger game.
Jimmy from Vero Beach, FL
Vic, I'm wondering if you've had a change in philosophy because you feel it's never been easier to play QB in the NFL, or if you dislike something in Lawrence's game. Having "The Man" seems like the most important factor in long-term success. Also, no team has 100 percent success rate in picking the right players. The Jaguars have been especially bad at it. Even if we hit on all four, having four good players vs. a great QB doesn't seem like an even trade.
OK, I surrender. Lawrence must be the pick.
John from Green Bay, WI
Vic, do you believe playing games in Europe is less about eventually establishing a franchise there and more about creating a market in which to sell TV rights?
I covered a preseason game in 1993 in Barcelona between the Steelers and the 49ers. I got off the plane after an all-night flight, staggered onto the practice field, saw someone I knew from the league office and decided he would give me an easy story so I could go to bed. "Pete," I said, "why am I here?" He smiled and explained the NFL sold $49 million in merchandise in Europe the previous year, expected to double that number and the team I covered was a big seller. In Pittsburghese, it's abaht da money n'at, jano. TV and merchandise is where the real money is.
Randy from Wisconsin Rapids, WI
What do we look for when trying to find a coach capable of getting his players to play above the X's and O's?
You look for greatness. Coach Lombardi coached his team to play above the X's and O's in the Ice Bowl. Coach Noll coached his team to play above the X's and O's in the Immaculate Reception. You'll know greatness when you see it. It has the look of immortality.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT
Vic, I'm Pittsburgh bound in two weeks so I can knock PNC Park off my list of unvisited MLB stadiums. I'm only in town for two days and three nights, so I'll need to wisely and safely cram in the important stuff, aside from the ballgame. Can you please advise on sightseeing spots, must eats and yinzer culture?
Pittsburgh is about more than its charming downtown. Pittsburgh is about the collapse of big steel and all of the little river towns, like mine, whose mills shuttered and left behind rusted reminders of what was once a very good life and a top 10 market. Pitt and Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh's robust medical, technological and corporate communities give the city a glowing, renaissance look on Sunday Night Football, but the abandoned mill towns are the true identity of what can happen when you are no longer necessary. Find them and you'll find the real Pittsburgh. They're worth seeing because they're real, more real than ever.